Black Stars and Black Magic

I first fell in love the USMNT back in the 2006 World Cup. It was an odd attraction because the Stars and Stripes were pretty feckless. I nervously watched the first two US games, the beatdown by the Czech Republic and the tense draw with Italy, but was hopeful for a group-clinching victory over Ghana. That game was heart wrenching. We went down early before Clint Dempsey equalized with his first World Cup goal (the only goal an American scored at that tournament). Then Stephen Appiah scored in first half extra time and the Yanks were done. I can still see the Black Stars flopping out the end of regulation and Michael Essien’s mocking smile.

I have hated (strongly disliked?) the Ghanaian Squad ever since. The bugaboo was back in 2010 when, after thrillingly winning our group, we were one-and-done in the knockout round at the hands of the Black Stars again. Kevin-Price Boateng (and his horrible haircut) only need five minutes to score. The game was back-and-forth before Landon “that guy who won’t be in Brazil” Donovan equalized on a penalty in the 62nd minute. Divine Intervention! The game was going to extra time and I, thrilled, assumed we were set up for our cathartic moment. Nope. Asamoah Gyan needed only three minutes to ice it. Game over. Yanks done in by Ghana twice in eight years. And we drew them again in Brazil. The soccer gods must hate us.

Voodoo must be the official religion of international soccer. Check out this article about a famed Ghanaian witch doctor who claims to have cursed Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo in advance of the World Cup:

Ghana’s most influential witch doctor has claimed he is responsible for the knee injury that is threatening Cristiano Ronaldo’s participation at the World Cup.

Nana Kwaku Bonsam – whose name translates literally as “Devil of Wednesday” – predicted in February that the Real Madrid forward would be forced to miss this summer’s tournament in Brazil with injury. A statement from the Portuguese FA on Wednesday confirmed that Ronaldo is suffering from tendinosis in his left knee as well as nursing a muscle problem in his left thigh, which caused him to miss the 0-0 draw with Greece at the weekend.

Ghana are set to meet Portugal in their final match of Group G in Brasilia on 26 June and Bonsam claims to have conjured a special powder from his gods, mixed with several leaves and concoctions which have been placed around an image and caricature of the former Manchester United player.

“I know what Cristiano Ronaldo’s injury is about, I’m working on him,” Bonsam, who serves at the Kofioo Kofi shrine, said in an interview with the Kumasi-based Angel FM.

“I am very serious about it. Last week, I went around looking for four dogs and I got them to be used in manufacturing a special spirit called Kahwiri Kapam.

“I said it four months ago that I will work on Cristiano Ronaldo seriously and rule him out of the World up or at least prevent him from playing against Ghana and the best thing I can do is to keep him out though injury.

“This injury can never be cured by any medic, they can never see what is causing the injury because it is spiritual. Today, it is his knee, tomorrow it is his thigh, next day it is something else.”

I can only surmise that the witch doctors also got to USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann. It is the only explanation (other than this one) for why Donovan didn’t make the our 23-man roster.

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